Dear Diary,

For many couples, a newborn isn’t their first baby–they already welcomed a four legged friend into their home years before. According to the Humane Society, 62 percent of households are made up of at least one pet, including our family. Back in 2009, shortly after Valentine’s Day, my husband and I brought Sophie home. We rescued the black lab/chow mix from a shelter and instantly became parents. We sacrificed sleep with early morning potty trips. We laid down the law with crate training. And we wrote rules and taught Sophie not to chew on cords. We also experienced the heartbreaking scare of Parvovirus, a highly contagious, life-threatening viral disease. Fortunately, Sophie survived and later saved us. When burglars broke into our rental home in Georgia, she scared them away. So to say we have been through a lot together is an understatement. Sophie is an official member of our family. She was our first baby.

When we decided to expand our pack, she sensed something was changing in her world. During my pregnancy, she became very protective, and especially stuck close to me when my husband worked the late shift. She even noticed the room across the hall was redecorated and off limits. She received a little less attention and soon found out why. We brought our baby home from the hospital, and introduced Sophie to the newest member of the family.  Here’s how to introduce your dog to your baby.

Give Your Dog Your Baby’s Blanket

On the way home from the hospital, put a blanket next to your child in the car seat. Once the blanket picks up the scent, present it to your dog. Do this before your pet meets your baby. Let your dog sniff the blanket calmly, but don’t let it play tug-of-war.

Let Your Dog Come Close

You determine the distance, and control the interaction. Don’t force your dog to come closer. Let your dog see and smell the baby. Sophie was very curious about our son and was happy to get a few sniffs to see that he was “safe.” Let your dog sit at your feet while you feed your baby, or let your pet lie on the floor during bath time. Reward your dog’s good behavior with a treat, which will allow you to give your baby your full attention.

Schedule Time With Your Dog

This is an area that requires a little planning, but it will help ensure that your dog is happy and his energy level isn’t too high. Take your dog to a favorite dog park, or go for a walk in your neighborhood. From my own experience, our dog is most destructive when she didn’t get out to exercise. Teach your dog how to walk next to the stroller and respond to commands, such as sit and stay.  If you don’t have the time to take your dog out and about, recruit a friend or hire help.

Maintain a Regular Routine

Before the baby is born, stock up on dog food and ration out servings. That way, you can quickly feed your pet and stay on your normal schedule.

Cuddle up

Make sure your dog gets plenty of belly rubs, scratches behind the ears and cuddles on the couch. In other words, shower your pet with a whole lot of love! Take the time to show your pup that you still care. The rubs will be soothing to you as well!

Hey DFTM Fam–How did you introduce your dog to your baby?

Anna is a married mom raising a 20-month-old son in Newton, NC. She writes about her experiences as a stay-at-home mom and reviews books for children and mommies alike. She loves being a mom because she gets the privilege of loving, teaching, and creating a lasting impact in her son’s life. When not writing for DFTM, Anna writes for her own personal blog and Sophie Magazine.

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